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How to identify Asbestos in Auckland Properties

One of the biggest blights on the global construction industry is the use of asbestos in the last century. This widespread problem spread its roots across the globe, and unfortunately New Zealand was no exception.

There’s a great reason why asbestos had such a widespread adoption across multiple industries. When it’s use was discovered in the 1930’s, its unique properties were considered to be the pinnacle of material sciences and a complete game changer. Due to its unique fibrous properties, asbestos is a material that not only makes materials significantly stronger without adding weight, but also increases its insulation properties and fire resistance. This made it an ideal inclusion for a range of different applications, from oven mitts and ironing boards, to fireproof blankets and perhaps the most disastrous, building materials.

Asbestos went from being the construction industry's gold standard to one of it’s biggest regrets.

So what exactly is asbestos? Asbestos refers to six naturally occuring silicates. Each of these silicates are made up of thin crystals with each one of their fibres being comprised of microscopic fibres. By adding asbestos to a wide array of building materials, such as concrete, under vinyl tiles and corrugated iron, builders looked to take advantage of increased structural integrity, superior insulation and resistance in both residential and industrial construction projects. The use of asbestos played a major role in the construction industry from the early 1930s all the way through to the late 1980s, at which point the health risks of asbestos were undeniable.

The problem with these microscopic fibres is that they can be released into the atmosphere as tiny particles, undetectable to the human eye, through abrasion and a multitude of other building processes. These particles contaminate the air and surrounding area. If inhaled, they pose a significant hazard to the human respiratory system, not being able to be removed, and potentially causing an irreversible, severe lung condition known as “asbestosis” as well as cancer.

What Are the Different Types of Asbestos?

Asbestos comes in a few different varieties that were used for different purposes.

Chrysotile Asbestos

Chrysotile asbestos is the most commonly used form of asbestos, and is often referred to as “white asbestos”. Its versatility means it was adopted in a wide array of applications. While naturally occurring chrysotile contains trace amounts of amphitle types of asbestos that increases its toxicity, even in isolation its fibers are capable of causing severe, life threatening illness. Some of its applications include:

  • Adhesives
  • Cement
  • Brake PAds
  • Fireproofing
  • Drywall
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Vinyl Tiles
  • Gaskets

Amosite Asbestos

Also known as “brown asbestos”, it is a common form of asbestos often used in the building industry. Exposure to amosite asbestos is linked to inducing a higher risk of cancer when compared to other forms of asbestos. It was commonly used for:

  • Fire protection
  • Cement Sheets
  • Insulation
  • Roofing Products
  • Vinyl Tiles
  • Gaskets

Crocidolite Asbestos

The extremely thin fibres that make up crocidolite asbestos makes it notably dangerous, and is thought to have caused the most deaths in comparison to other types of asbestos. These thin fibres easily lodge into lung tissue, which causes a wealth of respiratory issues and diseases that are irreversible. Crocidolite asbestos was used in:

  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Cement Sheets
  • Fireproofing
  • Insulation
  • Acid storage battery casings

Anthophyllite Asbestos

Due to there not being a long history of anthophyllite © Scoop Media

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